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Study Hall: Skipping meals hurts weight loss, keeping a food journal helps

For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

Dear Diary, I drank my coffee black, no sugar added…


According to a study published online this month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, simple habits (some of which you may have picked up in middle school) may help with weight loss.

The study: Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle set out to determine whether certain behaviors were associated with sticking to a diet. They monitored 123 overweight, postmenopausal women participating in a year-long weight loss program, examining their meal patterns, food intake, and habits such as food journaling.

The results: On average, the women lost about 10 percent of their total body weight, but women who kept food journals lost about six pounds more than those who did not. Those who skipped meals lost about eight pounds less than others, and those who dined out for lunch lost about five pounds less.

What it means: These three easy-to-implement (and all around good-for-you) habits could help you reach your weight loss goals. Don’t skip breakfast because you’re in a rush, pack yourself a salad instead of running out to Hale & Hearty, and jot down what you’re eating whenever you can.  —Allison Becker